Niles Marr, who performs under the moniker Man Made, is one of the foreign acts appearing at this year’s Reykjavík Music Mess. Born into a heady rock pedigree (his father is guitarist Johnny Marr of The Smiths and Modest Mouse), he’s performed with the likes of Broken Social Scene and Bright Eyes. With one EP under his belt, he’s looking to see if 2012 will be his year.
So Niles, there may be some people out there who aren’t sure who you are, so this is the moment for you to shine and tell us a bit about yourself. Don’t be shy now…
Well I’m Nile, and I’m from Manchester, and I write songs and perform as Man Made. I’m not sure how to answer this one really. It feels like I should say something like, ‘and I like long walks on the beach’…
Now we can’t get away from saying that you have a famous dad in the form of all ‘round guitar god Johnny Marr. That must have been useful for guitar lessons. How helpful has he been in realising what you want to do musically?
We don’t actually play together that much at all. Both of us are so busy, so I really taught myself how to play. Though my dad joining Modest Mouse was a pretty important event for me. I think being a teenager growing up in that American scene made me who I am today. I think it especially shaped my music tastes, and what I like to play. So I think that ultimately was the main influence for me musically.
You’ve managed to play with the likes of Broken Social Scene and Bright Eyes. How did that all come about?
One of the best things about being part of the ‘music biz’ is that it makes the world a very small place. Any time Bright Eyes play it’s like a family reunion. So it was really just a bit of fun, everyone’s hanging out and catching up and that kind of thing just happens. It’s a really cool trait of American bands I think.
With Broken Social Scene, they’re one of my favourite bands. I was going to their shows when they were on tour; I’d turn up early to make sure I was around to hang out and I snuck backstage and introduced myself. It was a trip. I kept doing that for a few shows of the tour and on the last day, I’d gone down early to see them play in London, and Kevin Drew was talking to me about their song, “Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl,” my favourite song of ALL TIME. Anyway, he knew that I liked it, and he just asked me if I wanted to play it with them that night.
Your debut EP last year was composed, performed and recorded entirely by yourself. Was this a case of necessity, or were others unable to provide what you wanted musically?
I don’t think it was that considered at all, really. I write all the songs, and at that point had only played gigs on my own; it just seemed like the right idea at the time. I wrote the songs with a full band set up in mind anyway, and doing it on my own just saved me explaining things more than anything. When I get back from Iceland, I’m finally getting around to making another EP, and I’m doing that with some friends of mine, so I’m really looking forward to that.